In Conversation With… Nick Carnicelli, President, Carriage Gate Homes
More and more homebuyers are heading west – to Hamilton, Burlington and other popular areas in the Hamilton and Halton regions – in search of affordable new homes. But it’s not just price that draws; outstanding natural features and other amenities make this part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe an increasingly attractive destination.
We spoke with Nick Carnicelli, president of Burlington, Ont.-based Carriage Gate Homes, as well as president of the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association, for his insights.
HOMES Magazine: The Hamilton-Halton region has long been a favourite destination for homebuyers who may feel priced out of the Toronto market, especially the last five years. What is it about areas in the west that appeals so much to homebuyers, besides affordability?
Nick Carnicelli: Burlington appeals to a broad spectrum of people, and offers a lifestyle that is hard to beat. The community boasts a safe, friendly environment, beautiful Lake Ontario waterfront, festivals, community events, great shopping, restaurants and rich arts and culture life. Spencer Smith Park is a favourite destination for joggers and cyclists. The Brant St. Pier extends 132 metres into Lake Ontario and provides breathtaking views of the city and shoreline. With popularity and very limited supply of available home choices to the east of Burlington, many homebuyers are looking west in search of lifestyle, value and neighbouring amenities.
The charming walkable downtown is undergoing a revitalization and is attracting new residential and mixed-use developments.
The area is also served by three GO stations and several major highways, making it easy travel downtown Toronto for work or pleasure, or to indulge in Hamilton’s burgeoning food scene or visit Niagara wine country for a weekend escape.
Hamilton itself is a diverse city with a progressive attitude, a growing arts and culture community, while rivalling Toronto as an affordable and desirable place to live.
And finally, a wide variety of housing options – single-family, semis, townhomes, low-, mid- and highrise, custom homes – at a wide variety of price points.
HM: How long do you think the area can maintain this affordability edge, given the popularity and price growth?
NC: Affordability is a challenge for every community, but I expect Hamilton will continue to remain relatively affordable given continued supply and a greater ability to provide a variety of housing options for first-time homebuyers, as well as for transitioning buyers.
HM: What are some of the key issues facing the HHHBA, and therefore homebuyers these days?
NC: Supply. There is simply not enough shovel-ready land for builders to do their job. Municipalities cannot keep up with the supply needed to meet demand and the population allocations provided by the province. Red tape causes lengthy approval times, which delays the ability to bring the product to market. These two factors have a significant effect on the purchase price of new housing.
Burlington is trying to reinvent itself, and Hamilton is making huge strides forward to accommodate new housing. New plans for the downtown and a series of other ambitious initiatives are huge steps forward in the right direction. However, adequate and uninterrupted supply of high-quality housing is still a major concern for all municipalities.
My primary focus as president of HHHBA is to work with all levels of government to spearhead many of the changes we need to support our goals of providing affordable, high quality housing that meets the expectations of a very broad range of homebuyer’s needs and preferences.
HM: Let’s talk about Carriage Gate. What are some of your most exciting projects underway right now?
NC: Gallery Condos + Lofts is an art-inspired condo project in the heart of downtown Burlington, and influenced by the city’s vibrant art scene. Carriage Gate is working with local artists and will feature art throughout the building. The 22-storey building will feature a gallery level podium with a unique cutaway corner and vibrant streetscape right across the street from Burlington City Hall.
The greatly enhanced streetscape, piazza-style environment features patios, alfresco dining, and convenient, street level retail, creating a natural place to gather and enjoy the day.
Comprised of 159 units, the open-concept layouts designed by Tomas Pearce Interiors range in size from 514 to more than 1,600 sq. ft. The units will appeal to everyone from young buyers looking to buy their first home, to mature adults seeking to downsize who still want space to entertain.
The stunning rooftop terrace will offer stunning lake views in every direction. Amenities include a fitness facility, along with a yoga studio with an indoor pool with lounge areas, as well as multi-purpose party room with a bar and dining area.
Large balconies with gaslines for barbecues, and chefstyle kitchens augment each of the open-concept units in the Tower Suites. Loft units are available on the gallery level, and highlight urban finishes such as 10-ft. ceilings and barn doors. The master ensuite in the loft units include a one-ofa- kind four-piece spa bath. This signature feature places the tub and shower in the room for a totally relaxing environment. Carriage Gate is incorporating a lot of forward thinking features into the condo suites to bring added value to our customers.
Our Berkeley Condominium in downtown Burlington is close to completion, with expected occupancy and registration completed this spring. We’re very proud of first condo in downtown Burlington. The building is home to a lot of very nice people who are enjoying first-hand, the lifestyle the downtown has to offer. We are very encouraged by the positive feedback we have been receiving about the Berkeley.
HM: What’s next for Carriage Gate?
NC: We have started marketing for Gallery Condos + Lofts, and are very excited by the tremendous interest so far. We plan to build in Burlington for a long time and we have multiple exciting new projects moving forward in the near future.
Our most ambitious project to date is coming soon to Hamilton. Roxborough Park is a new kind of master-planned community. We worked closely with the City of Hamilton and the community to bring this to reality. We collaborated with all stakeholders to make affordable homeownership a reality. Roxborough Park will feature three-storey townhomes, back-to-back towns, stacked condos, rental apartments and a partnership with the City of Hamilton Housing, to bring true new affordable units to the community. The project is more than 650 units and will be breaking ground in 2019.
AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…
HM: When I am not at the office, I:
NC: Spend time with my wife and four children. Now that they’re a little more independent, I have rediscovered golf and try to travel more. Our office is in downtown Burlington and I truly enjoy everything the location has to offer. The warmer weather is motivating me to start running again – I may have another marathon in me yet!
HM: If I wasn’t a homebuilder, I would be:
NC: I have been in this business my whole career. This is really the only thing I know and I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. This work is my passion and I am proud of the company we have built and am very proud to be part of this great industry as a builder and current president of the HHHBA. I am fortunate to represent this strong group of dedicated small business owners who are working together to build the Canadian dream for people – a place they can call home.